Thursday, September 8, 2011

A tale of 3 lil' piggies

Tonight a few of us foodies headed out to Causeway Bay to try out a new addition to the Sichuan dining scene. He Jiang and its unlikely location (Cosmopolitan Hotel, 387-397 Queen's Road East, CWB, HK) had got us all curious, and did not disappoint. We enjoyed a very good dinner, thanks to efficient and polite service and flavourful food. I should also mention that the price per head ended up being very reasonable (slightly north of 250HKD) despite the numerous dishes we ordered. The food was really delicious, and some of my Chinese foodie friends commented that the taste was "very mainland", which was meant as a compliment to the authenticity of the ingredients. I will definitely be looking forward to my next visit.

Stone jars and piggy decoys outside the entrance... kinda cute actually :)

Pickles - a mix of carrots and mystery veggies (which we thought might be broccoli stalks), mildly pickled and with the faintest hint of spice. Very, very delish. Perfect balance of flavours and impeccable crunchiness. And as anything slightly vinegared, great to work up an appetite...

Sliced pork served with garlic and chilli sauce - always a winner. A good zing of spice, fresh pungent garlic, and tender fatty meat.

Mouth watering chicken (aka saliva chicken) - never been my favourite dish but I have to admit that this one was pretty good.

Mouth watering chicken - the sauce was unusually thick with plenty of crunchy veggies and peanuts, good sesame flavours and the chicken skin not too fatty. I managed to find a piece that did not have chopped up bones all over, which is one of my major pet peeves... deent but still not enough to push me to have a second piece.

Traditional poached sliced beef in pungent sauce - mildly spicy and packed with flavours. Good balance on the textures also, with roasted peanuts and crunchy fresh herbs. Very nice.

The poached leopard coral grouper with bean sprouts in spicy soup arrived at the table quite stylishly...

... then the staff promptly proceeded to skim off the layer of dried chillies that floated at the surface to reveal a milky broth. Despite the amount of chillies, the dish was quite mild and had some very delicate milk and fish flavours. The fish itself was nicely cooked, not mushy but still a bit firm. A very good dish.

Braised crab with Sichuan homemade sauce - this was absolutely superb. The sauce was divine, and the sweet crab had soaked up the flavours without being overpowered by the spice. As usual, dishes like this one are an absolute mess to eat, and that's half the fun  - except maybe if, like me, you came straight from work with a pale yellow shirt... bib, anyone??

Roasted duck, Sichuan style - there was quite a bit left of this dish, and even though the meat was pretty tasty and the sauce smelled wonderful, somehow the dish didn't really work. The duck skin wasn't crispy (in all fairness, I am not sure it is meant to be) and despite being pretty fragrant, the sauce lacked in flavour and taste. The lack of spice probably also did not help make this dish popular in the middle of a collective chilli OD.
Traditional poached sliced beef in pungent sauce - tender and quite spicy. Another very good dish with a good balance of flavours.

Sweet potato noodles in the beef sauce, plated with care by fellow diner The Sous-Vide Monster...

Fried diced chicken with chilli and peanuts - a Sichuan classic, nicely done here with pieces of chicken wings, which retained some fat and moisture after frying and also had quite a bit of collagen. Somehow I found (like some of my fellow diners) that the dish was a bit under-seasoned. Problem easily solved by munching on a couple of the dried chillies...

Sichuan dumplings - some of my fellow dines complained the skins were too thick, which didn't really bother me. The meat was juicy but could have been a bit more seasoned. The sauce was very similar (identical??) to that of the pork rolls we had as starters. Reasonably good but not the best in town.

Complimentary dessert - I was feeling very full at that point and considered not touching it...

... which would have been  my loss. This was actually delicious, even though not exactly light - a giant glutinous rice pancake, pan-fried and filled with chunky red bean paste. The flavours were very "buttery" with caramel notes... I would actually happily pay for this :)

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